Jon Jones, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, is not so light anymore as he prepares to make his heavyweight debut at UFC 285.
Photos and videos of Jones in training have tracked his transformation from a lean, slender fighter to a much heavier man.
Since walking away from the sport in 2020, Jones has worked with the likes of American bodybuilder Stan Efferding to make the jump in weight class.
Jones says that Efferding lived with him for nine months to help with his training, teaching him about the importance of sleep and diet.
“I feel great. Honestly, I feel like a stronger version of myself. I’m not super lean, I don’t have a mean six-pack like I used to.
“That took me a while to get used to. Back in the day, I would judge my fitness level by the way I looked in the mirror but I’m a heavyweight now.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the fight, Gane says his previous experience in the heavyweight division could give him the edge over Jones, who has teased a move up in weight throughout his career.
“I have more experience in this division. Trust me, a lot of people underestimate me and my wrestling game so we will see this Saturday,” Gane said Thursday.
“It’s a big test for me. Maybe, truly, the biggest test of my life so I’m really happy about that.”
During his nine-year reign as the undisputed light heavyweight king (and arguably MMA’s best fighter, period), Jones ran through legends of the game while showing mastery of every element of combat, outwrestling wrestlers, outstriking strikers, and just generally winning however he wanted. He remains the youngest fighter ever to win a UFC title, doesn’t have a legitimate loss in 28 fights, and would be universally revered were it not for the weakness he’s shown outside of the cage time and time again.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to make it eight straight title defenses when she squares off with Alexa Grasso, who has gone 4-0 since moving up to the flyweight division. Grasso is understandably a huge underdog as she looks to stop Shevchenko from moving into a tie with Jones for the fourth-most consecutive successful title defenses in UFC history.
Also on the main card, Geoff Neal faces undefeated welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov, top-ranked lightweights Mateusz Gamrot and Jalin Turner face off, and three-time NCAA wrestling champion Bo Nickal makes his highly anticipated UFC debut against Jamie Pickett in a middleweight bout.
Widely considered one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, if not the greatest, Jones was interested in a move up to light heavyweight soon after his UFC record 11th successful title defense at light heavyweight, but ended up in a standoff with the promotion over his compensation for a potential fight against Francis Ngannou.
Ngannou later won the heavyweight belt and vacated it over his own pay dispute with the UFC, leaving the door open for a big-time debut for Jones at his new weight. A win Saturday would make Jones the ninth UFC fighter to win a belt in two divisions and the third to do it at heavyweight and light heavyweight, joining Randy Couture and his old rival Daniel Cormier.
Video footage on social media shows Gyllenhaal stepping onto the scales, flexing his sizable guns and shouting towards the crowd.
He was then involved in a face off with Hieron, his opponent in the movie, and slapped him on stage in the scripted altercation.
Getting into impressive shape is nothing new for Gyllenhaal, who played a boxer in the 2015 film ‘Southpaw.’
Former UFC champion Conor McGregor also stars in the ‘Road House’ remake. He was at the weigh-in, too, hyping up the crowd while Gyllenhaal was on stage.
He beat Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson to reclaim the belt in 2018 and seemed to be holding it together until an allegation of domestic violence in Las Vegas in 2021, which led to him pleading no contest to a charge of tampering with a police vehicle during his arrest.
Saturday represents the latest in a long line of second chances for one of the sport’s most notorious figures, and a win for the bulked-up Jones will see his name thrust into discussions about who is the best in the world at the moment.
Conor McGregor made a surprise appearance after the Jones and Gane weigh-in, taking the stage to cheers from the crowd and promoting a film he is working on with actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
He followed that performance up with decision wins over Darian Weeks and Gabe Green to take his MMA record to a perfect 10-0.
Kenan’s UFC career also started with a bang, debuting in front of his home crowd in China where he knocked out Bobby Nash just 15 seconds into the first round.
That result sparked a promotional run that would see him go 4-2 with three finishes.
However, Kenan has not fought for almost two years, with his last outing ending in a first round loss to Max Griffin. During that time Garry has been steadily working on his game and has competed five times since Kenan’s absence.